A travel primer for those looking to try Tahiti and its surrounding islands.
Travel: International Travel
Travel: Tips & Tricks
Are you dreaming of beautiful beaches, clear and teal waters, and bungalows over the ocean? Then chances are good you're dreaming of Tahiti, but what do you really know about Tahiti? Read on and we'll cover the basics of all things Tahiti.
Tahiti is the main island in the archipelago (group of islands) of the Society Islands. The capital of Tahiti is Papeete and the island has a population of around 250,000 people which makes it the most populous French Polynesia island. It's one of 118 islands that cover an area f 1.5 million square miles.
The island is located pretty much in the middle of Nowhere, South Pacific Ocean. It's actually about a 5 hour plane ride south of the Hawaiian Islands. From Los Angeles it's an 8 hour flight southwest and from New Zealand it's a 5 hour flight to the northeast.
For international travelers, the starting point will be Faa'a Airport located in Papeete. The island is shaped like a figure-eight and divided into two parts. The larger side is known as Tahiti Nui, which means Big Tahiti, while the smaller side is called Tahiti Iti, or Little Tahiti.
The time zone here is the same as Hawaii which is -10 GMT. For the exact time, we've better explained the time in Tahiti here. The currency here is the French Pacific Franc (XPF) which fluctuates with the euro. There are roughly 100 XPFs to every $1 USD. Many hotels and banks will offer currency exchanges and major credit cards are widely accepts.
Tahiti was originally settled by Polynesians around 300 to 800 BC and Polynesians today make up around 75 percent of the population on the island. Around 15% are Europeans and around 10% are Chinese.
In 1880 the island was annexed by France, proclaimed a colony of France, and it's population the became French citizens. Before that it was actually part of the Kingdom of Tahiti. French and Tahitian are the official languages of the island, though English is common in the touristy areas.
As you might expect, the weather in Tahiti is fit for a tropical paradise. The weather here averages between 70 °F and 88 °F without much change that would separate one season from the next. As is common with island paradises like this, seasons are more often defined by wet or dry. The wet season here runs from November to April when you may see 13 inches of rain in January. On the flip side, August is the driest month with only around 2 inches of rainfall.
In cooler months, evenings are usually very nice and some may want to pack a light jacket. Higher elevation tend to be even cooler. During summer months, the less clothing you have on the more comfortable you'll be. And since the weather is often incredibly perfect you'll want to take plenty of amazing photos of the islands here so read up on how to Take Better Travel Photos.
As is common with islands like this, tourism is a big deal here and accounts for a large portion of the economy. The good news for travelers is that means there are over 40 hotel and resort options (with over 4,000 rooms available), rental car agencies, and other facilities and services for the Tahiti traveler.
When you're ready to hit the beach you'll have plenty to choose from and some of the most beautiful ocean water around. Of course, you'll want to first read Eight Tips for Staying Safe at the Beach and apply plenty of sunscreen to protect yourself from sunburn and skin cancer.
Flying into Faa'a Airport should be an easy deal but you'll need a passport (not sure how, read How To Get A Passport). You may also enjoy our TSA Survival Guide and if you have little villagers traveling with you read Flying with Children.
Tahiti and the surrounding islands offer some of the best scuba diving and snorkeling conditions in the world. Consider a tour on an outrigger canoe or other boat or just take a swim in the ocean. If you're looking for other adventures you can try horseback riding, four-wheel Jeep safaris, deep sea fishing, wind surfing, and helicopter rides.
If you want something a bit more time then look into the island's various cultural activities and museums. Or maybe just grab a towel and set up shop on the beach and get ready for an amazing sunset. This is a tropical island paradise that caters to tourists so there is truly something for everyone here.
Other Tahiti Islands
While Tahiti is the name of the main island here, there are many other islands in the area that you can explore. The most popular islands include Bora Bora, Moorea, Huahine, Raiatea, Taha'a, Rangiroa, and Tikehau. Consider splitting your trip up so you can visit a second or third island for a few days and get off the beaten tourist path a bit.
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